Beautifully Broken — And Restored
Sara Kreischer |
May 13, 2021
There is an ancient Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery that dates back hundreds of years. The story says that in the late 15th century a powerful military leader sent a broken tea bowl to be repaired and was disappointed when he received it back with these ugly metal staples piecing it back together. From this was born the ancient art form of Kintsugi, which is Japanese for "golden repair" or "golden joining." Artisans began fusing broken pottery back together with gold, highlighting the cracks and the broken pieces with precious metal and thus making it rare, one of a kind and infinitely more valuable. These restored pieces of pottery became even more valuable than they were in their original form.
I learned about Kintsugi several years ago at the same time I was introduced to another concept that I had never heard before, the phrase “beautifully broken.” You see, I’m a perfectionist by nature and the idea that something could be broken AND beautiful was absolutely foreign to me. To me, once something is broken, it’s no longer valuable. Sure, I might try to fix it, pull out the super glue and do my best, but if it’s broken, it’s reached the end of its usefulness. It’s meant to be tossed out at that point.
The problem with this thinking is that it had bled into my own personal story. You see, my story had been laid out quite nicely for most of my life - planned out in careful order, a few bumps in the road that Jesus gently walked me through, and I had no problem professing the goodness of God through it all to anyone who would listen. But my story took an unexpected turn and I was left staring at the shattered pieces of my former life. My carefully planned and executed life was in ruins and I had absolutely no idea how to identify God’s goodness in any of it. Completely broken. And as I said, my thought up until that point had been that if something was broken, it’s no longer valuable, meant to be tossed out. That thought echoed in my heart and I wrestled with the feeling that I was no longer valuable, my story offered no hope and I had reached the end of my usefulness to others.
So, I did what I thought I should do — break out the emotional super glue and try to put myself back together. Try to bind up those broken pieces of my life and hide the cracks. I know now that I probably looked like that broken teapot from 600 years ago with unsightly obvious metal staples piecing the ruins of my life together. I finally reached the point of exhaustion from trying on my own strength to repair myself and surrendered to God my brokenness and handed Him all the broken bits.
It was then that my Creator could do the real work, fusing the pieces of my life together with HIS gold; highlighting the cracks with HIS grace, HIS restoration, HIS redemption, HIS peace, HIS transformative power and HIS comfort. My story was HIS piece of art, and its brokenness was the place where HIS work was on display, making my story rare, one-of-a-kind, and infinitely more valuable. As I cautiously began to share my story with others, I was astonished to find that my brokenness and God’s goodness highlighted through it was far more powerful than my perceived perfection had ever been. His grace shining throughout my testimony was far more attractive than the shiny image I had tried to maintain of having life all together.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
These verses remind us of two very important truths. First, God is the source of all our comfort. Whatever impossible situation, heartbreaking reality or devastating turn you may be walking through now, God will walk beside you and offer comfort. We aren’t promised immunity from these situations as Christians, that life will go according to our well laid plans, but we are assured that God walks alongside us and comforts us each step of the way.
Second, this verse explains that we are comforted in all of these troubles so that we can comfort others. Our story is the praise that offers this comfort to others. When we allow God to be the gold fusing our story together, His grace, forgiveness, and redemption is on display in the cracks of our brokenness, and it puts God on display. It demonstrates to others the comfort He’s provided us with through it all. It celebrates His power to restore us to something of infinite value. Allowing people to see how God has walked with us, lining our lives with His gold offers comfort and hope to others that He can and will do the same for them.
So I want to encourage you today, if you feel like your story isn’t polished enough, isn’t perfect, devoid of any trials and heartache, isn’t a finished product with all the loose ends neatly tied up — IT IS OKAY. The beauty and the value of your story is highlighted by the Kintsugi art of God’s work in your life, shining His beauty in your brokenness and the pieces of your life that He’s still working through.
Allow God to comfort you, turn your story into a thing of beauty and then share that beautiful brokenness and that comfort you have received with others. Your testimony is not in your brokenness but in the restoration. This is what you can do, what you’re called to do — share your story with a broken world desperately looking for value and for restoration. Offer comfort to those in the same way He’s comforted you.